Resetting the relationship between local and national government. Read our Local Government White Paper

Great Music Places in Darlington

A collaboration between in Darlington resulted in young people sharing their talents on a national stage on 21 June 2022.

View allCulture articles


A collaboration between local authority arts lead Creative Darlington, Durham Music Service, Darlington Hippodrome and independent venue The Forum resulted in young people sharing their talents on a national stage on 21 June 2022 – Make Music Day. The day started with primary schools performing on an open-air stage in the town centre, followed by schools and music service ensembles performing on the town’s biggest stage at the Hippodrome in front of hundreds of people. The Forum’s showcase of their talented rock schools bands completed a packed day of music. As well as taking place live in Darlington, events were livestreamed as part of the Make Music Day UK and Global Broadcasts.

The challenge

To celebrate Make Music Day by showcasing the breadth of local musical talents and the strengths of the local music sector.

The solution

Work with Make Music Day organisers and collaborate with local music organisations and makers, bringing together a free programme of live music in public spaces.

The impact

The cost of this project was low (less than £1000) as it used existing infrastructure and assets. Costs related to making venues open for free were covered by a small donation from Creative Darlington.

Darlington’s programme consisted of:

  • daytime performances by local schools in the town centre (4 performances, 210 performers, 480 audience members)
  • early evening show in the Hippodrome (5 performances, 129 performers, 385 audience members)
  • late evening show in The Forum Music Studios (15 performances, 30 performers, 150 audience members).

How is the new approach being sustained?

Make Music Day UK is encouraging BIDs and local authorities to use June 21 as a low cost way of animating public spaces, engaging local music makers (amateur or professional, large ensembles or solo musicians, young or older) to showcase their talents and reach wider audiences. 

Lessons learned

Collaboration between local authorities, music organisations, educations hubs, independent venues and community music groups to rally around a coordinated programme of live music creates a ‘hook’ that excites and attracts participation and audiences.

Darlington Great Music Place identified a number of benefits of being a Great Music Place:

  • it opened up opportunities (for example, by being able to use a large theatre as a performance venue) which in its turn gives status to the events
  • it gave people in Darlington a sense of pride through an awareness of what is going on in the town which may often go unnoticed/ taken for granted
  • working in collaboration enabled the music offer in Darlington to be “freshened” up without a large revenue spend
  • it boosted Darlington’s musical profile
  • it reached new audiences and participants increasing social benefits but also opening up potential future commercial benefits for venues and organisations participating
  • it created aspirational opportunities for young people to participate in
  • it showcased the opportunities that are available to people living in Darlington.

There was a diversity of people in the audience at The Hippodrome that you wouldn’t normally see – it was really exciting”

Contact: [email protected]

Watch Darlington's YouTube video